Sunday, August 22, 2010

SCIA's Running Festival with the Winning Wheelers

Written by Rebecca Konstatzky, Fundraising Coordinator and Winning Wheelers Team Captain.

I have never been much of a runner. At school whenever we had a cross country, I would take the short cuts when no one was looking and still end up near the end of the pack. So when my boss and Partnerships Manager, Leila, came to me and said “Bec, I want you to do the City 2 Surf and get people to do it with you” I thought she was joking. Surely she didn’t really expect me to run in the world’s largest fun run. To me, there was nothing fun about it. But slowly information was popping up from every corner of the country of different fun runs, marathons and half marathons. It seemed that there was a fever taking a hold of Australia; and it was something that I had to embrace.

Together with a few partners and programs, we soon developed our very own ‘SCIA Running Season’. I really thought about whom I worked for and the people I was representing, and suddenly it seemed silly to resist. I mean, I had so many inspiring people who faced so many more challenges that I did and yet they still seemed to evolve and strive for something more. I thought about the fundraising component and really, if I was going to be the team captain, then I really needed to set a good example and put my money where my mouth is.

The Winning Wheelers Team was born and soon we’d have people from all over the eastern seaboard running, walking and wheeling their way through 4 different events – Sutherland 2 Surf, City 2 Surf, Bridge to Brisbane and the Sydney Running Festival.
I am lucky enough to train with a personal trainer and when I told him my goal, “to survive these 4 running events” he looked shocked. When I began training with him, the very first thing I said to him was “I don’t run!” That look of shock seemed to follow me, along with scoffs, laughter and looks of worry from loved ones that thought I had gone mad (thanks for the support guys!). I thought about our Walk On clients, one in particular, Nathan (who is a quadriplegic) and the sheer determination to change what people, particularly the medical profession) expected of him. He got up out of his wheelchair, walked the last 25 metres of the Bridge to Brisbane to cross the finish line. Needless to say I was almost in tears when I saw his video on YouTube! If he can do it, so can I.

I started taking my training seriously and pushing myself beyond what I ever thought I could. I was further fuelled by the support that I got from my family. They sponsored me $400 to do the Sutherland 2 Surf and the City 2 Surf (Thanks Mum and Dad!). At first I thought, “bugger, now I really have to do it”. But what I discovered to my shock and horror was that I actually started to like it.
Never having had run (or walked for that matter) any of the distances that these events were, I knew my body was in for a bit of a shock. I don’t think I have ever hurt as much as I did when I completed the City 2 Surf. But what feeling overwhelmed that feeling of pain was PRIDE! I had accomplished something I never thought I could. I thought to myself, ‘this is what it must be like when our Walk On clients stand unaided for the first time, or take those first steps to independence’. I knew what I was doing was important; raising funds for Walk On, Peer Support, Accommodation, Emergency Services, Advocacy and so many more programs and services that SCIA provides... that IS important.

During this running season, I have been inspired time and time again. Shannon our SUPERSTAR Peer Support Officer who wheeled his way over the finish line at the Sutherland to Surf to beat all the odds, Jenny from our Walk On program in Brisbane who will be get up out of her wheelchair and walk the last leg to cross the finish line at the Bridge to Brisbane, and now Angel, another amazing Walk On client from Sydney who will be running... yes you read right, RUNNING 4kms at the Sydney Running Festival. These people along with so many unsung heroes should be an inspiration to all of us, like me who have the ability to do so much more with the body they have been given.
When standing at the start line of our first event, the Sutherland to Surf, I thought to myself “this is going to be a looooooong season!” But now, I am sad that it is slowly coming to an end.

To all those who participated, sponsored and encouraged on the sidelines, we, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia would like to say a big THANK YOU! We hope that you can join us at the next event nearest you!

Enjoying a post run Massage at the Sutheland 2 Surf

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